Meathouse Man by George R.R. Martin

Meathouse Man

Rating:

This is some fucked up shit. Misogynistic and necrophilic fucked up shit. With illustrations. My inner feminist is vibrating with rage and is drawing disturbing comparisons with serial killer Elliot Rodger.

The meathouse is a whorehouse whose ‘whores’ are dead women, most of whom are former criminals and debtors although some have been kidnapped and killed precisely to be commodified by transforming them into brainless undead prostitutes. Outside of the meathouses, corpses are used as workers directed by handlers (read: puppeteers), similar to what The People do with vampires in Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series. The entertainment industry is dominated by corpse fights like the gladiators of old, their handlers manipulating them like 3-D real world video game characters.

Greg succumbs to peer pressure by patronising a meathouse where he falls in love with a coprse-whore and thus begins an obsession. The explicit artwork of this graphic novel makes it all the sicker. Necrophilic rape porn imagery is not something I want to see. And the illustrations aren’t even good – it’s quite grotesque actually, although that may be intentional.

Anyway, Greg decides he deserves better than an undead woman and proceeds to wait for a living, breathing woman. He meets one, he falls in love and she rejects him. He moves to another planet, meets a woman, falls in love, they’re happy for a time, then she dumps him for his best friend. From here on out he hates women. Love is a cruel lie. He turns to the occupation he once shunned: gladiator-corpse handler. Turns out he’s excellent at bloodily dismantling his opponents from the comfort of his ‘throne’ as the crowds cheer him on.

I know George R.R. Martin is a man who loves to write controversial storylines. A Song of Fire and Ice gets a pass in my eyes due to historical and cultural accuracy. Meathouse Man, on the other hand, is set in the distant future when man has colonized multiple planets. One would hope such pervasive and socially acceptable misogyny and disrespect for the dead would be but a distant memory by this time.

I’m shocked and disappointed that this is a 2014 Hugo Award Best Graphic Novel Nominee.

*Read for free via the LonCon3 Hugo Voter Pack.

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9 thoughts on “Meathouse Man by George R.R. Martin

    1. I knew there was controversy surrounding Vox Day when I saw his name there but I couldn’t remember why. Thanks for the link. As a person of colour myself, that’s incredibly offensive. I can’t believe the Hugos would endorse someone like that.

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  1. I haven’t read Game of Throne so can only go on the TV series, but somehow, this storyline doesn’t surprise me, based on what I’ve seen of that.

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    1. I’ve only read the first one and seen the first season of the show. I think they were tame compared to this. At least they had an excuse – historical accuracy – but this doesn’t.

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  2. This story is definitely very intense graphically and sexually with men having sex with practical corpses. However, it is not idolized.

    The lesson of the story is not that men should just use women for sex. The main character was happiest when he was with a real woman and truly loved her and not just physically. There are very sexist ideas portrayed in this book, but they are presented as wrong and encourages the reader to turn away from it. I understand your anger at it due to it’s content, but that’s what the writer wanted. The reader is supposed to be disgusted by the content that you hate so much and desire women for who they are and not for their bodies.

    I would have expected a feminist to give this a positive rating for satirizing our current society’s views on women and sex. This comic is a depiction of our society’s future, but is not one intended to make readers excited, but a grim one to inspire men to change their ways.

    Of course each reader’s interpretation won’t be the same, but as a guy this is how I understood it and feel this story has had a positive impact on me and so I believe it should not have its reputation dragged down, but promoted for its theme and critique of modern society.

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  3. I strongly encourage everyone to read Meathouse Man. Its so short that you really have no excuse. And it really is one of the few pieces of literature that has punched me in the gut and has continued to haunt me long after my first read.

    GRRM, has an expansive collection of Sci-Fi short fiction, which I encourage everyone to read (especially A Song for Lya, Tuf Voyaging, In the Hose of the Worm, and Sandkings), and Meathouse Man is definitely one of the darkest and most fucked up, though it definitely has some strong competition. All of these many stories take place in futuristic fantasy universe that GRRM calls the Thousand Worlds. And one theme that is consistent throughout his writing is a theme of feminism. If you don’t believe GRRM is a feminist then you haven’t read the Brienne chapters in ASOIAF and you haven’t read stories like Bitterblooms, in which the opening scene depicts the Heroin protagonist LITERALLY attempting to bury patriarchy in the form of her father/lover.

    GRRM’s Thousand Worlds universe contains an unknown number of human occupied planets, all with incredibly different stories. Some are technologically or culturally advanced, while others are planets of disgusting religious cults. Some planets are so misogynistic that the men have all resorted to homosexuality, while other planets have re-written the Christian Bible to worship “the gospel of Judas Iscariot”; all in a vast galactic conspiracy to reshape humanity through false religions (actually a pretty funny religious satire).

    Meathose Man is one of three stories taking place on a “Corpse Handler” planet. OHH by the way, ASOIAF/GOT fans, this is one of many the stories that will give you great insight on how the Others/White Walkers are able to control the wights (maybe even Lady Stoneheart?). GRRM has admitted that he’s “too much of a Sci-Fi guy” to allow for scientific inaccuracy in his writing, including ASOIAF. For this reason I really think he would want this ability, which is basically necromancy, to be logically consistent and something that can be explained through science fiction rather than just “magic”.

    What’s interesting about the two planets portrayed to us in Meathouse Man, is that men and women seem to have achieved near or complete social, economic, and political (honestly we learn little of the governments of these planets) equality. Corpses however are used and regarded as “meat” regardless of gender. The male corpses are used for constant hard labor to rape planets of nearly all their resources at all environmental costs. And the female corpses find themselves in the “Meathouse”, and it is much more of a statement about rape than it is a glorification.

    This story was originally intended to be published in Harlan Ellison’s The Last Dangerous Visions, but Ellison rejected it and told GRRM to “tear the guts out of the story and rewrite the whole thing from page one.”

    That is exactly what GRRM did. Meathouse Man is beautiful, heartbreaking, and relatable to so many of us. It may be one of the darkest of all his writing, maybe that’s why I love it. You should read it and find out for yourself!

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